Returning to Elysium

“As writing, communication, if one insists upon maintaining the word, is not the means of transport of sense, the exchange of intentions and meanings, the discourse and “communication of consciousnesses.” We are not witnessing an end of writing which, to follow McLuhan’s ideological representation, would restore a transparency or immediacy of social relations; but indeed a more and more powerful historical unfolding of a general writing of which the system of speech, consciousness, meaning, presence, truth, etc., would only be an effect, to be analyzed as such. It is this questioned effect that I have elsewhere called logocentrism.” Jacques Derrida

“The systemic crisis in right-of-center use of arithmetic runs far deeper than just polling.” Brad DeLong

“Derrida was unable to condemn his friend’s behaviour because he was less concerned about de Man’s war than his own. The attack on de Man struck him as the latest in a series of malicious attacks on deconstruction. He had reason to feel that he was fighting on all fronts: against the Nouveaux Philosophes; against Anglo-American analytic philosophers who considered him a charlatan; against Jürgen Habermas and his followers in Germany, who denounced deconstruction for what they saw as its Heideggerian irrationalism. Derrida, who had refused to join the communists and Maoists in Paris, was now leading a party of his own, and, publicly at least, he was as inflexible as any leader. He never expressed regret over his response to the de Man affair. But in his last two decades, he began to evolve into a different sort of thinker, a globally attuned ethicist, as if in response to the charges made by his adversaries. He spoke less of Heidegger than of Levinas and Walter Benjamin, whose radical Jewish messianism struck a chord with him. Deconstruction, he now claimed, had always been about justice, all the more so for having been silent about it. He continued to pun – deconstruction, in French, would be nothing without puns – but the Joycean mischief of works like Glas and The Post Card subsided, as new, more sombre themes emerged: responsibility to the other (a theme taken from Levinas), memory (‘the trace’), Islam and the West, democracy, globalisation and its discontents, and sovereignty. He began to write more explicitly about his Algerian-Jewish roots, as if he wanted the world to know who he was after years of hiding from view. In his autobiographical essay ‘Circumfession’, composed in 59 paragraphs, one for each year he had lived, Derrida remembered his own ritual circumcision and speculated that circumcision was ‘all I’ve ever talked about’. The roots of deconstruction lay in the ‘writing of the body’, in the writing that marked difference.” Adam Shatz

What’s another election post-mortem between fiends?

The Telegraph’s Tim Stanley writing about the coming Anglican insurrection touches on many pointed I wanted to make since the election. Our paths differ when he brings up this reminder:

Make no mistake: the transatlantic Right is still awash with money and has a vibrant media sector. But in all else it is largely disestablished and disenfranchised. Whether this is a good or bad thing – for either the movement itself or for the society it seeks to save – remains to be seen. But it does require a shift in journalistic analysis. Ideological conservatism can no longer be treated as shorthand for establishment self interest. On the contrary, uprooted from power it is now a free thinking, freewheeling movement of outsiders. Most of them are angry, some of them are crazy. But they aren’t the wealthy, powerful clichés of old. They are the new Bolsheviks.

I was going to take a different tack and compare our friends on the other side of the aisle to 60’s era Maoists. Somehow, and I forget now, I was going to tie that to Derrida’s scrapes with French Maoist factions during the last quarter of the 20th Century. Seeing as that’s out the window I still think that the most important thing we’ve gotten out of this election is the Right’s return to the comfort of the 60’s. Once again they can see themselves as surrounded, hounded, and constantly on guard to be vilified at any moment. Once again they can return to their preferred zeitgeist – being the hated outlier.

Think about it – that was the position of strength The Right moved forward from in the 60’s and it’s never been anything they’ve ever put away. Even during the George Bush years when were the majority party in all three branches the radio talk show hosts still came off as put upon and bowdlerized for as much as saying “Good morning!” While there was no basis for it then all the ideologies are in play to make it all fresh again. If there has ever been a time to be, as Derrida would point out, trapped by the language of your own making then this is it.

Some other time we’ll talk about how Michelle Bachman is the Republican version of Shirley McClain in her mumu at the 1972 Democratic Convention and Mitt Romney is the new Ted Kennedy. Until then take a minute and please enjoy this short film which was the prototype of Fox’s victory celebration had Romney won.


  1. Fearless Lieder

    I find myself even more out of step with the so-called majority of the GOP, as I refuse to accept martyrdom. As an ethnic Irishman I suppose I should, but defeat just gets my juices going and I am prone to plot new deviltry.

    You. Have. Been. Warned.

  2. Cripes Suzette

    Is this about burned piecrust or maybe about Black Friday shopping? Because that’s all I can relate to anymore. I even lost my gift wrapping mojo. IM adrift.

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